Any critique of this article should be directed toward the author “Trashy,” whose manner and tone do not reflect Earth First! as a whole. Furthering infighting and divisions only benefit the ones destroying the planet.
DGR in Trouble
At the annual Law and Disorder Conference, radical ecology group Deep Green Resistance (DGR) was confronted by trans-women. In the aftermath, books were destroyed, verbal assaults were exchanged, organizers declared regret about inviting DGR in the first place, and a DGR lawyer accused the trans-women of the Class A Misdemeanor offense of “Menacing.”
No salmon were harmed in the process.
Law and Disorder
The Law and Disorder Conference is a relatively large gathering of radical-minded folks in the Cascadia bio-region in its fourth year. This year’s roster of speakers and panels included Rising Tide, eviction defense activist, Ajhamu Umi, awesome eco-defense lawyer Lauren Regan, the Jericho Movement, and more. The community event also hosted interesting tables for groups like PM Press, Jericho, the Portland Radical, and Deep Green Resistance.
DGR’s relationship to the radical community was put to the test during the three days of events. In one tense moment, a grand jury resister, who is also a trans-person, was present as a conversation about gender disintegrated into an argument wherein the DGR table expressed total opposition to a critical analysis of cis-gender identity.
Burritos flew when, on a totally different occasion, a similar argument blew up between an anarchist and a DGRer.
The RadFem Controversy
DGR has been criticized for the “Radical Feminist” views of one of its leaders, Lierre Keith. Radical Feminism views trans-women as men who, at best, cannot possibly understand femininity and, at worst, are misogynists intent on undermining and subverting the feminine. The controversial essentialization of gender (penis = men) led to a large campaign against the RadFem 2012 conference in London, and its eventual cancellation by the venue, Conway Hall, on the grounds that speakers “actively discriminate” and “foster hate” against trans-people.
DGR is also outspokenly anti-anarchist, and their literature repeatedly attacks anarchism. Experts note that this is a new trend in the writing of some of their leaders, particularly Derrick Jensen who wrote persuasively in favor of black bloc militancy before collaborating with Chris Hedges to malign the black bloc as “the cancer in Occupy.” Jensen tells Hedges, “[black bloc] attacks on cops are simply a means to an end, which is to destroy a movement that doesn’t fit their ideological standard.”
Questions have been raised in the past about DGR’s participation in an event about radical responses to law enforcement, since the leaders of DGR have actively participated with and collaborated with law enforcement. On at least two occasions, Lierre Keith has worked with police officials. Jensen collaborated with the FBI to track down an emailed death threat.
Tensions at Law and Disorder escalated to a head when, on the final day of the conference, a confrontation between two trans-women and two cis-women tabling for DGR turned to vandalism. As the cis-women denied the trans-women’s identity, the trans-women took out a black marker and proceeded to draw on DGR’s text books. One of the cis-women stretched her hand out to protect the valuable words of their leaders, and the marker grazed her hand.
After reporting the “assault” to the organizers of the conference, the Law and Disorder organizers resolved to post a public response on their Facebook page. Insisting that the conference appreciates safer spaces policies and listens to everyone who makes claims about disruptions, the organizers declared that DGR does not fit their safer space policy, and will not be asked back in the future. The thread was immediately packed with more than 80 comments, which became so blatantly trans-phobic that the organizers finally removed it from Facebook.
Among the Facebook commentators was Derrick Jensen, himself, who was also found recently on the comment section of the EF! Newswire arguing that EF! hates women and accusing a moderator of being a rape apologist. On the Newswire, Jensen declared that he will be writing a new article attacking queer-theory and anarchists as misogynistic.
What is to be done?
Many activists feel that local DGR activists are different from their ideological leaders, and deserve inclusion in the radical community. Others insist that DGR is based on an authoritarian-hierarchical model wherein “autonomous” local chapters are suborned to an informal ranking that accumulates in central ideological figureheads, much like Maoism in the late 1960s or even Scientology.
The confrontation at Law and Disorder may set back relations between local DGR activists, the ideological leaders of DGR, and the radical community for some time. Activists in other groups around Portland are currently contemplating how to address “solidarity” from DGR in the future.
Upon leaving the conference, some wild-eyed radicals were heard to say, “We did it! We finally won!” When asked what it was that they won, the young ferals shrugged their shoulders and walked away.